Cast and Credits
Jackie the Chimp, Joe the Chimp, Sally, Happy and Queenie (elephants), Little Leo, the Trained Lion
Running Time: 71 minutes
Working Title: Tarzan Against the World
Copyright Date: March 20, 1942; Renewed
Jan. 13, 1975
Released May, 1942
First showing in Canada: July 1, 1942
Tarzan ŕ New York [Fr]
Tarzans Abenteuer in New York [Gr]
Tarzan a New York [It]
Tarzan contra o mundo [Pg]
Tarzán en Nueva York [Sp]
When Boy is taken to New York by plane, Tarzan and Jane follow.
Through a nightclub entertainer and the pilot of the plane, they learn that their son is in the custody of the circus people who brought him to America. Tarzan and Jane go to the circus to claim him, but are unsuccessful.
Taking court action, Jane hopes to regain custody of Boy, but on cross-examination inadvertently admits she is not the natural mother of the child, and Tarzan is restrained when he manhandles the circus men’s attorney.
Jane agrees to let Tarzan follow his own instincts, and he escapes and heads for the circus, where the circus owners are planning to leave with Boy and their employees’ wages. And though they temporarily immobilize the jungle king, he is able to block them with support troops summoned from the circus elephants.
Later, the court, while not condoning Tarzan’s tactics, acknowledges the genuine motive behind them, and allows the family to return to its jungle home.
The final entry in the MGM Tarzan films is also the shortest. And despite the lack of praise from the critics, Tarzan's New York Adventure was fondly remembered by the Tarzan family. Indeed, Weissmuller reported to the press in a pre-shooting interview:
“I understand that the studio has rented the entire Hagenback-Wallace circus and it is pitched on the back lot. So when little Johnny is in the cage with those lions, I climb to the top of the tent, slide down the center pole and wreck the whole joint.
Sounds like a good, lively show. And it is a pleasure, a genuine pleasure to be wearing clothes.”
Maureen O'Sullivan echoed this last comment, She had been pleading with the studio bosses to release her from the Tarzan films, but at least in this one, she was able to sport some fashionable clothes. [Curiously, in one of her final interviews, O’Sullivan made an opposite appraisal of the film, stating that it was a mistake to make a Tarzan film away from the jungle.]
Johnny Sheffield had a ball making this film. His favourite moments are with the elephants, putting them through their paces. Of course, as he says, George Emerson was giving them their cues, but on screen it looked as if they were following his commands.
And Danton Burroughs, the current boss of ERB, Inc., told me that this was also one of his favourite Tarzan films.
As with several of the earlier entries, the filmed version differed from the original script in a number of ways.
For instance, in the original screenplay, when Tarzan is warning the hunters to leave his escarpment, Buck tries to shoot him in the back, but is prevented by the pilot, Shields. In return, Tarzan gives him a good luck amulet. Later in New York, Tarzan sees the amulet on Connie, and realizes that she must be a friend of the pilot.
Another sequence called for the hunting party to be captured by the Men-Who-Eat-Lions. Tarzan and Jane go to their rescue when they hear the lion horns.
And in the first version, Buck has a wife named Dolly, who plans to run off with Sargent, and Buck kills Sargent with Boy’s knife.
This film, begun four weeks after the completion of ...Secret Treasure, was shot in six weeks at a cost of $700 000. Only a few shots were actually filmed in New York City, and without the cast.
The special effects in this film involved Tarzan swinging from flagpoles, leaping over roof tops, or pole vaulting onto the Big Top. Elephants were choreographed blocking the escape route of the villains as they tried unsuccessfully to leave the circus grounds. And the supreme event — Tarzan diving from the Brooklyn Bridge —was filmed by cameraman Jack Smith from the top of the MGM scenic tower on lot 3, shooting straight down as a dummy plunged into a tank.
I won't even try to summarize what Johnny Sheffield has to say about his assessment of Tarzan's New York Adventure. Read it for yourself by pressing the link to the first page of his interview with Matt Winans. His analysis of the ingredients that make this film a winner are better than anything I could say.
And Tarzan's New York Adventure was the first of 1200 films to be shown free to U.S. armed forces and a 16 mm print was flown to Iceland for its initial showing on May 10, 1942.
Motion Picture Herald
The jungle man was bound to land in civilization sooner or later and New York seems to be a happy choice for the excursion. Tarzan swings among the roof tops of the big city with the same ease he does on his African escarpment. It is one of the best of the Tarzan series and should please about all of the ape man's host of fans...
The New York Times
With an African yodel and a tailor-made suit, our old jungle friend is back in "Tarzan's New York Adventure," currently chilling the veins of reviewers and twelve-year-olds at the Capitol. Although we're not quite certain that the small-fry approved of Tarzan's temporary conversion to decidedly dapper duds of the sort more commonly seen at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, he probably will be forgiven. In Tarzan's case, clothes do not make the man. No less startle than the audience to find himself in a well-draped double-breasted suit, Tarzan continues to behave as if he still wore nothing more substantial than a breech clout. He swings across the dizzy canyons of Manhattan via flagpole riggings, leaps form Brooklyn Bridge and even walks into a shower fully clothed and exclaims: "Rain, rain feel good!" Tarzan is still Tarzan.
Naturally it would require a stout reason to bring Tarzan from his comfortable jungle to the civilized wilderness of New York. But when a circus owner steals Tarzan Jr. and brings him to America as a performer, no brakes can hold back the irate parents. What with one thing and another they create a minor sensation in the big town. Cheta, the chimpanzee who well-nigh steals the picture, runs amok in a swank hotel boudoir, shakes hands with astonished clerks, babbles over telephones and even makes wise-cracks nearly as intelligible as Tarzan's. Tarzan himself is frightened by jitterbug "war dances" over the radio, finds that a nightclub "smells like a Swahili swamp," but accepts taxi drivers as trail finders. When the law moves too slowly in regaining his lost offspring, Tarzan reverts to type. With a war whoop that rings across the city and with the cooperation of the circus animals, he gets the boy by more direct means.
It is all very juvenile and
not infrequently exciting. And the contrast between Johnny
Weissmuller's jungle brogue and his son's private school diction is
hilariously amusing in an unintentional way. Maureen O'Sullivan
continues to act as a model of jungle deportment. Not so Cheta. More
than anyone, the monk turns the Tarzan's excursion into a
rambunctious simian romp.
Like others of its series, this is in the groove for the juves and holds little for adults. Maybe even less this tie, considering the extraordinary amount of footage the director gave and the cutter permitted to remain to the antics of the trained chimp. Kids can take this kind of stuff in large dosages, but adults will squirm after the first fifty feet. In all round merit, however, this "Tarzan" qualifies for its established market.
Seventy minutes of jungle hoss opry is interspliced with Mr. and Mrs. Tarzans' adventures in New York regaining their adopted son, carried off by an unscrupulous hunter who figured he could clean up with the kid in a circus. Charles Bickford plays that menace and Cy Kendall is his sidekick, as owner of a one-ring show. Chill Wills and Paul Kelly are involved with them, but they go to the aid of the jungle parents when the latter pull the rescue in the Metropolis.
All the situations are trite, even including Tarzan's 200-foot dive off the Brooklyn bridge to escape some cops who just don't understand the jungle-man. In the end, of course, everything works out right for the Tarzan family and back they go to dear old darkest Africa. There's all the usual swinging-from-the-trees and animal stuff, and the photography and direction are standard. Performances ditto, with Johnny Weissmuller not improving as an actor, but pretty Maureen O'Sullivan, as his missus, and John Sheffield, as the junior Tarzan, compensate for him to a great extent. Both are good troupers. Bickford and Kendall are okay as the menaces, while Paul Kelly and Chill Wills will draw sympathy for their more kindly actions. Rest of the cast is not importantly concerned, though Russell Hicks, as a judge, Howard Hickman and Charles Lane as lawyers, turn in nice bits.